Leading article: The green light, hopefully...

Share
Related Topics

In his first newspaper interview since the G20 summit, Gordon Brown makes it clear that he will not be spending his time hoping that the Government's position in the polls is about to be magically transformed by good economic news.

But, although the Prime Minister will not be looking for green shoots, he seems keen to plant a few. He has signalled that the Budget being prepared by the Chancellor, Alistair Darling, for later this month will have a strong emphasis on the environment. He suggests it will contain an electric car pilot scheme, plus measures to hurry along wind farm developments and to support carbon capture technology.

Mr Brown is certainly right when he argues that Britain will need to find some way of creating jobs in a post-recession world in which the City, our dominant employer of late, will be much diminished. Furthermore, we will need to expand our renewable industry rapidly if we are to meet our EU target of producing 15 per cent of our energy from low carbon sources by 2020. There is plainly scope for growth in the labour-intensive green economy.

So it makes sense for the Government to shape its economic policy to fit a low carbon future for Britain. Yet there are some caveats.

In his many years at the heart of power, Mr Brown has never seemed particularly animated by the need for urgent action on climate change. This raises questions of credibility about his sudden conversion now. The second problem is affordability. The deterioration in the public finances outlined by the Institute for Fiscal Studies this week shows how little room for manoeuvre the Government has. A shift to green energy will pay for itself over time. But there are upfront costs. Does the Government have the means to pay them?

Neither of these two obstacles is insurmountable. Mr Brown can demonstrate that he is finally serious about the environment. And sending clear signals to the market can be as important as the investment of public money. But if the Prime Minister imagines the public will be fooled by a handful of half-hearted measures pulled out of the bag to distract us from grim economic news, he needs to think again.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner - Night Shift

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A leading Leicestershire based chilled food ma...

Ashdown Group: Senior Accountant - ACCA, ACA or ACMA - Construction Sector

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Accountant (ACCA, ...

Recruitment Genius: Media Sales Executive - PR and Broadcast - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company has an exciting op...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor - Shifts

£17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This European market leader for security...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

If I were Prime Minister: I'd champion the young and hold a cabinet meeting on top of Ben Nevis

Bear Grylls
 

i Editor's Letter: The five reasons why I vote

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable
Living with Alzheimer's: What is it really like to be diagnosed with early-onset dementia?

What is it like to live with Alzheimer's?

Depicting early-onset Alzheimer's, the film 'Still Alice' had a profound effect on Joy Watson, who lives with the illness. She tells Kate Hilpern how she's coped with the diagnosis
The Internet of Things: Meet the British salesman who gave real-world items a virtual life

Setting in motion the Internet of Things

British salesman Kevin Ashton gave real-world items a virtual life
Election 2015: Latest polling reveals Tories and Labour on course to win the same number of seats - with the SNP holding the balance of power

Election 2015: A dead heat between Mr Bean and Dick Dastardly!

Lord Ashcroft reveals latest polling – and which character voters associate with each leader
Audiences queue up for 'true stories told live' as cult competition The Moth goes global

Cult competition The Moth goes global

The non-profit 'slam storytelling' competition was founded in 1997 by the novelist George Dawes Green and has seen Malcolm Gladwell, Salman Rushdie and Molly Ringwald all take their turn at the mic
Pakistani women come out fighting: A hard-hitting play focuses on female Muslim boxers

Pakistani women come out fighting

Hard-hitting new play 'No Guts, No Heart, No Glory' focuses on female Muslim boxers
Leonora Carrington transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star

Surreal deal: Leonora Carrington

The artist transcended her stolid background to become an avant garde star
LGBT History Month: Pupils discuss topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage

Education: LGBT History Month

Pupils have been discussing topics from Sappho to same-sex marriage
11 best gel eyeliners

Go bold this season: 11 best gel eyeliners

Use an ink pot eyeliner to go bold on the eyes with this season's feline flicked winged liner
Cricket World Cup 2015: Tournament runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

Cricket World Cup runs riot to make the event more hit than miss...

The tournament has reached its halfway mark and scores of 300 and amazing catches abound. One thing never changes, though – everyone loves beating England
Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Heptathlete ready to jump at first major title

Katarina Johnson-Thompson: Ready to jump at first major title

After her 2014 was ruined by injury, 21-year-old Briton is leading pentathlete going into this week’s European Indoors. Now she intends to turn form into gold
Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot